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Last updateTue, 20 Apr 2010 7pm

CSR in Bulgaria

1. CSR in Bulgaria

BILSP The concept of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as such with its instruments has been introduced to Bulgaria and followed firstly by the big international brands producing sportswear that started to put orders to Bulgarian factories attracted by the low labour cost and closeness to big consumer markets. The first activities were mainly social audits and social monitoring and trainings in Codes of Conducts and labour rights undertaken by the multinational companies.

3 sub-chapters + source info:

1.1 CSR at national level (NB: more details in the article)

At national level, several layers can be found and the international level of the UN Global Compact initiative should be pointed out. It started functioning in Bulgaria since January 2003 and now over 120 members are collaborating in an informal network.

In October 2006 a baseline survey “The Corporate Social Responsibility within the Bulgarian Context” was carried out by “Alpha Research” Agency on the understanding and practices of corporate social responsibilities in Bulgaria amongst large and medium companies and amongst Global Compact member companies.

The United Nations Development Programme in Bulgaria supported the efforts of the Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) to develop a National Strategy on CSR. A Working Group was created including representatives from:

  • The state administration: MLSP, General Labour Inspectorate (GLI), Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Economy and Energy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, etc.;
  • The social partners: Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, Confederation of Labour “Podkrepa”, Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, Union of Private Bulgarian Entrepreneurs, Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), etc.;
  • Non-governmental organizations: Balkan Institute for Labour and Social Policy (BILSP), Bulgarian Standartisation Institute, Investors Relations Services in Bulgaria, Partners for Socially Responsible Business Association, Consultant House “Strategies”, Federation of Consumers in Bulgaria, etc..

A National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) has been developed in the Republic of Bulgaria and adopted in 2007. The main goal of the national strategy is to define objectives, priorities and measures that will enhance the quality of life in Bulgaria for present and future generations, as well as to give a vision for the medium-term and long-term development of the country. The strategy is based on the European Union’s renewed Sustainable Development Strategy and the renewed Lisbon Strategy. The key challenges of the strategy are as follows:

  • Climate changes and clean energy
  • Sustainable transport
  • Sustainable consumption and production
  • Preserving and management of natural resources
  • Public health
  • Social inclusion and demography
  • Good governance.

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1.2. CSR at branch level (NB: more details in the article)

Amongst the branch level initiatives the establishment of the Round Table on Introducing the Social Standards in Bulgaria in 2004 should be pointed out. The Round Table includes members from:

  • the Government: MLSP, GLI, the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training, the Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion;
  • the social partners: the nationally represented trade unions and association of employers;
  • and the non-governmental sector: business companies and non-profit organizations.

The moderator of the Round Table since 2006 is BILSP, partner of the Hermes-OSR project, which has also elaborated the procedure and the self-assessment report on CSR for the annual award for the socially responsible enterprise of the year.
The National Round Table for Introducing Social Standards also organizes National Conferences on CSR at national level under the auspice of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy who usually bestows the prizes to the winners in the National Competition for Socially Responsible Enterprise.

Other awards have been launched in Bulgaria:

  • The national award for a socially responsible enterprise is a public acknowledgement aimed at boosting morale and giving support to the enterprises in Bulgaria that adhere to the best practices for socially responsible enterprise. It is an annual competition for enterprises that work in the territory of Bulgaria and that aim to implement the concept of CSR in relations with their staff, business partners and the local community. The competition is held in partnership with state institutions - MLSP, the Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and GLI - NGOs and social partners.
  • Similar competition has been launched in 2003 by the Bulgarian Business Leader Forum (BBLF) - the Annual BBLF Awards for Responsible Business.
  • The last initiative of similar objective has been launched in July 2008 by the daily “Pari” (Money).
  • UNDP, BBLF, the Bulgarian Charity Aid Foundations have also jointly issued the first Responsible Business Directory in 2005.

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1.3. CSR at company level (NB: more details in the article)

At local (company) level there is nothing systemized but trainings and awareness raising measures under different projects. The BILSP has carried out more than 30 training workshops in more than 20 factories. More than 200 workers and 50 managers and owners have been trained to apply the instruments and vehicles of CSR in their strive to invest in their human capital and their relations with the community and their business partners as a competitive leverage to raise their productiveness and quality.

The multinational companies putting orders in Bulgaria are carrying out systematically social audits by accredited consulting companies and NGOs as well as they maintain social monitoring performed by their staff situated in the country.

A survey carried out by BIA – one of the biggest employers associations in Bulgaria showed the attitude of the companies towards the main components of CSR.

It will be true to conclude that there are already symptoms among the management of companies of accepting and investing in the implementation of CSR at company level. Moreover in most of the recent surveys carried out regularly in Bulgaria by different research agencies show that the most acute problem of all the companies irrelevant of their activity is the qualification and retaining of personnel.

All these aspects combined to the role and involvement of the BILSP, partner of the Hermes-OSR project, lead to the development of the Hermes-OSR project supported by the Leonardo da Vinci European programme under the specific approaches of the Human Resources and vocational education and training in subcontracting SMEs.

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Source: part of an article published in "Management et Avenir", special issue on HERMES-OSR findings and results, by Dimitar MATEV, Zlatka GOSPODINOVA from the Balkan Institute for Labour and Social Policy (BILSP), and Georgi PEEV and Krassimir YORDANOV from the New Bulgarian University (NBU).

 

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